Obama’s tenure marked by lost opportunities

Since retiring from the state Senate, I have tried to refrain from focusing on partisan politics in the columns that I write.

Some will say the thoughts I’m sharing here are too partisan, but I will strongly disagree. I have never been as concerned for the future of this country as I am today.

Many people, of all political persuasions, have expressed similar thoughts to me.

If I could put a label on the legacy of the Obama administration, it would be “The Administration of Lost Opportunities.”

On every front that I can think of, things are deteriorating. A new administration always has a unique opportunity to set a new direction for this country, to set a new tone in Washington and with Congress and to solidify our position as the world’s superpower. That’s usually the theme of campaigns.

Opportunities have been squandered on all fronts, and that’s not just with the administration. Congress is more dysfunctional now than I can ever remember it being.

The first black president — charismatic, highly educated, articulate, with an attractive family and with a campaign message that gave hope to many, who had the unique opportunity to be the “great uniter.”

That has not happened.

Many polls during the past several years have looked at race relations in the U.S. and have found more and more that Americans think race relations have gotten worse, not better. With each poll, those numbers continue to increase.

Imagine the possibility for good outcomes if the president and his former attorney general had taken a positive approach to confronting race relations. Imagine what could happen if instead of blaming much of the recent unrest on the police, this administration had said they were going to focus on actually working to get to the root cause of why a disproportionate number of crimes are committed by young, black males.

Imagine the how good it would make young blacks feel about opportunities in this country if our first lady had emphasized to the graduates at Tuskegee University that this is a country of great opportunity, regardless of race or ethnicity for young graduates.

Even while growing up in modest circumstances, she graduated from Princeton, received a law degree from Harvard and at the time of becoming first lady was making a large six-figure salary.

She worked hard and achieved great success. Instead of focusing on the great opportunities afforded her, she gave a controversial address focusing on the how difficult it was to be black in this country.

What a lost opportunity to inspire young people to achieve.

Probably my greatest concern with this president is his reckless use of executive orders in order to circumvent the Congress. When executive orders clearly violate the Constitution and circumvent the law, it is inconceivable to me that the Congress and/or the Supreme Court can’t intervene in a reasonable time frame.

Congress has proven to be ineffective in moving our country forward whether under the leadership of Republicans or Democrats. As I write this, a single senator, Rand Paul, stopped the Senate from voting on whether or not to reauthorize portions of the Patriot Act.

I’ll not debate the merits of the act, but for one member of the Senate to be able to stop a vote on such an important measure is ludicrous.

As I watch the roll-out of presidential candidates from both parties, it’s obvious most are pandering to the extremes of the political spectrum. This is one reason Americans are becoming less engaged in politics and voter turnouts are abysmal.

I’m convinced that most Americans are in the middle and feel their views will not make a difference. They may be right.

The far left (progressives as they like to be called) think government is the answer to almost everything. The far right has an answer for almost everything: “No.”

Most Americans are tired of this. I’m tired of it. Until the political parties change direction and realize that most Americans are not at the extremes, people are going to become more disengaged.

America’s respect in the world is declining, our allies feel betrayed in many cases, and the world is becoming less safe. The president touts ending engagement in two wars but refuses to acknowledge the war being engaged by Islamic extremism.

Our country is at the highest threat risk we have been since 9/11. What kind of world are we leaving for our grandchildren? Eight years of lost opportunities for a start.

Enough of my frustrations. I’ll try to find an uplifting subject next time.

Beverly Gard served 24 years in the Indiana Senate before retiring in 2012. She is a Hancock County resident.